Friday, April 08, 2011

Snap: Leading, Farrier, Bathing

Snap and I have had several training sessions. I still am getting to know him. He is very sweet and wants to please, but has a tendency to kick out when he gets frustrated.

I have been working with him on leading lessons; teaching him to stay out of my space. Using John Lyons methods. This particular method is described in his Communicating with Cues (Part III) book and involves moving the horse around you in a small circle, stopping, starting, changing directions in a serpentine manner. It's working quite well for us as Snap is leading better and staying out of my space better. When I'm leading him and he gets too excited or in my space, I do a few quick circles to focus him back on me and we continue on.

Snap has also spent several hours on our high-tie next to the trailer, learning to stand calmly. I sometimes feed him on the high-tie, and for a food-motivated horse, that's a big deal. :) I haven't taught him to stand tied directly to the trailer yet. That will come later. For now, I can tie him to the high-tie when I need to. He respects that well.

Tony, my farrier, came out last week to replace Tanna's shoes, put shoes on Serts and meet Snap. Unfortunately, Snap wasn't a model citizen, showing me that I need to work on him holding his feet up for longer periods of time.

And finally, today, Snap got a bath. I don't normally bathe my horses, because, let's face it, they just go roll in the yuckiest spot they can find when you let them go, making them dirtier than they were before the bath.

However, I noticed some small spots of possible rain rot or such and decided a warm day was a good chance to put some medicated shampoo on that and stop it in its tracks.

I fitted Snap with a nice rope halter, refreshed him a minute on his leading lessons and commenced to showing him the hose with water flowing gently out of it. He wasn't impressed. He backed away. I held the lead rope firm, not following him and after a minute, he took a step forward. I immediately moved the hose away, praised him, and moved the hose back. He stood there this time. I splashed his left front foot, which he promptly snatched back as if I'd thrown a fire brand on him. I kept gently splashing. When he moved, I just asked him to move in a circle around me a la our leading lessons. As he got used to the water splashing his hoof, I moved the water up his leg until I was directing the flow onto his shoulder. At this point, I kept the water on his shoulder while he walked around me. When he stopped on his own, I removed the water, praised him, and put the water back. After a couple times repeating this, Snap just stood there and I was able to pet him after the water, making sure the water was getting to his skin. Whenever Snap moved, I just directed the water at his shoulder, asked him to move in a circle and when he stopped, I removed the water, praised him, and kept on.

I was quite impressed with Snap's performance. I did stop short of wetting his hindquarters and under his back legs. I didn't want to be kicked and he'd done so well to this point.

I turned off the water, lathered Snap up, walked him a bit and then repeated the water play to rinse him. This time, I did get his hindquarters wet and he didn't mind much. What a good boy. He got some sugar cubes before I let him go.

And what did Snap do as soon as I removed his halter?? Yes, he rolled in the yuckiest spot handy. Good thing I wasn't in it to get him CLEAN! ;-)

A quick note on having a dark horse. I see Snap at least twice a day up close at feeding/haying times. However, while bathing him, I discovered he'd tangled with a sticker bush or something, having some 2- or 3-day old scratches around his front right leg near his chest. This is something I would have seen right away on Serts or Tanna. It's not bad and it's healing nicely, but just a thing about having a darker horse. He'll shed out though and in a few years, that won't be an issue!

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